Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Book Review: Relinquished Hood

I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Relinquished Hood in exchange for a review. I’d read the first one and loved it so very much, so when Kendrai Meeks offered me the second, I naturally jumped on that opportunity.

The Blurb

A werewolf and a hood bound by loss, trying not to kill each other. A vampire haunted by his shameful legacy. A mysterious stranger who’s more than he seems. How many monsters and secrets lurk in the halls of the WWL Corporation?

Geri Kline’s attempted estrangement from all things supernatural has her turning her back on her wolfslayer legacy, and worrying about more human things, like how to dress for the first day of your summer internship? Which shoes go best with silver daggers and crossbows? And how do you spy on your vampire bosses without getting caught?

She’s always heard that politics make strange bedfellows. Turns out, corporate espionage makes worse roommates. True, having a werewolf living with her might be the best security system ever, but half of the time, the danger they face is from each other. Both she and Tobias suffer from instincts that could drive them to ruin. Forcing themselves to work together and figure out what the corporate vampires at WWL are doing mixed up in a series of werewolf deaths may end in tragedy. Or worse still, friendship.

The Cover

The Review

This book takes up almost immediately (although not quite) after the first book ends. It’s Geri’s summer-time adventure in Chicago, working with Karmarov the vampire scientist, hosting her reluctant-ish werewolf friend Tobias, and flirting like mad with the sexy slayer Caleb. (Protip: be careful when searching for “sexy slayer” or you’ll end up seeing images of Buffy Summers you weren’t expecting.)

The storyline was intricate and involved without being overwhelming. I had no idea until the end that *mumble spoilers mumble* was *mumble* and that *mumble* was on their side all along! (More or less on Geri’s side…)

The growing friendship between Tobias and Geri is so well-crafted and never loses sight of the fact that he is grieving his mate and his brother, but also still alive, and intricately bound to Geri.

The part that was hardest for me was Geri’s relationship with her mother. I’m so confused about what’s going on with them. On the one hand, I hate mommy dearest with a passion, but on the other? I know she’s working some angle, and I probably still hate her, but maybe not? I don’t know and I hate it!

The plot of the vampire genetic research is so well woven with Geri’s continuing journey towards self-actualization and recociling her place in the world as both a woman and a hood.

I developed so many feels – SO MANY FEELS – about Geri’s path, and if I wasn’t afraid that sharing them with Ms. Meeks would result in me not getting an ARC of book 3, I’d share them all.

I’m even more impressed with the world-building and craftsmanship of this book than the previous, and appreciate the humor sprinkled throughout. A book that elicit the wide range of emotions I felt while reading this one is a rarity.

The Quote(s)

SO MANY FUNNY THINGS! There was more than once that I laughed out loud on the bus.

“Well, then, Geri Kline, the next time I have a package, I’ll expect to see it in your hands.”

I look at a vampire the same way I look at a politician: down, until given a reason to do otherwise.

…Amy wrapped me up in a hug. Maybe she was a supernatural, some sort of preternatural hugging monster heretofore unclassified in the hood annals.

Ugh…I feel you, Geri.

The Verdict

The first book was a fascinating journey into a modern Red Riding Hood. This book continued down that path. I love the mythology that Ms. Meeks has woven into her story – not only the Red Riding Hood fairy tale, but the tale of The Seven Ravens, and the histories of vampires, slayers, and werewolves.

Do yourself a favor and grab this book immediately.

4.5 unreserved stars!

I’m looking at this book the way the wolf looks at Red Hot Riding Hood.

SaveSave

Cover Reveal! The Ruby Blade

I am so excited to share this with you guys. I love my cover artist and what she’s been doing for the series, and really think this captures Eleanor and where she’s at with The Ruby Blade.

As much as doing the cover art is one of the most fun parts of the gig, writing the accompanying blurb is my least favorite part.

I mean, I have one, but I think the real winner is the version I came up with Monday evening as I was workshopping this in my author group chat (for the 1 millionth time):

Just buy it. It’s not that bad.

NAKED HOTTUB SCENE!

GOOD FIGHTING!

/and scene

The Blurb

Raj swore he’d pay any price to recover the blade he’d wielded a thousand years ago, but what if that price is Eleanor’s trust?

Eleanor is beset on all sides by supernatural enemies determined to halt her quest to reopen otherworldly traffic between Earth and the Fae Plane. Double-dealing shifters, black magic, and treacherous elves challenge the skills and cohesion of the group.

The chill that threatens to send her dragon half into hibernation does nothing to bank the fires of her desire for Raj—but Florence’s cryptic warning prevents her from succumbing to his charms. Raj is not what he seems and he is hiding something far darker than Eleanor ever imagined.

Will she be able to forgive him or will the truth kill her?

And, without further ado, the cover!

 

Didn’t Skyla do an amazing job?

I’m super excited for you guys to read this book! ARCs will be headed out the end of next week (maybe earlier) and the release is set for 10/31/17.

You can add it to your Goodreads queue The Ruby Blade (Eleanor Morgan #3)  and even preorder it on Amazon (Kindle version only at this point).


SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

Book Review: Midnight Labyrinth

As everyone is probably aware by this time, I’m on Elizabeth Hunter’s ARC list. It was not easy to get on this list. I tried bribing her with so many things. (True, most of those things were my first-born son, and yes, most of those offerings were on days he was being particularly trying, but he is adorable, dammit! and that should’ve worked.)

When she offered me a chance to read Midnight Labyrinth ahead of time, I not only jumped at the chance, I asked: “how high?” I’ve been waiting for the first Ben & Tenzin full-length novel for just about as long as I knew that Benzin was going to be a thing.

I was planning on waiting to review this until release date, but I need you guys to be as excited about this as I am. Because this was amazing.

 

The Blurb

He’s one human caught in a tangled maze of theft, politics, magic, and blood.? In other words, it’s just another night.?

Benjamin Vecchio escaped a chaotic childhood and grew to adulthood under the protection and training of one of the Elemental world’s most feared vampire assassins. He’s traveled the world and battled immortal enemies.

But everyone has to go home sometime.

New York means new opportunities and allies for Ben and his vampire partner, Tenzin. It also means new politics and new threats. Their antiquities business is taking off, and their client list is growing. When Ben is challenged to find a painting lost since the second world war, he jumps at the chance. This job will keep him closer to home, but it might just land him in hot water with the insular clan of earth vampires who run Manhattan.

Tenzin knew the painting would be trouble before she laid eyes on it, but she can’t deny the challenge intrigues her. Human laws mean little to a vampire with a few millennia behind her, and Tenzin misses the rush of taking what isn’t hers.

But nothing is more dangerous than a human with half the story, and Ben and Tenzin might end up risking their reputations and their lives before they escape the Midnight Labyrinth.

MIDNIGHT LABYRINTH is the first book in an all new contemporary fantasy series by Elizabeth Hunter, author of the Elemental Mysteries and the Irin Chronicles

The Cover

You can’t tell me this isn’t gorgeous. SO AMAZING! (Click the cover and it will take you to Goodreads)

The Review

This was an amazing book. There’s a mystery for Ben to solve, humans for Tenzin to amuse herself with, secret bad guys, not-so-secret bad guys, and Gavin. There was Gavin.

Now, I’ve always liked Gavin. Overall, I’m extremely fond of Scottish people, and will do just about anything asked if it’s asked in a Scottish accent (don’t you take advantage of that, PSM!), but Gavin had kinda always been the background before.

But this book? *sigh* Gavin.

WAIT! This book is about Ben & Tenzin, not Gavin. (YOU GUYS! Gavin owns a bar in New York, but he’s getting a little bored with immortality, and instead of seeking me out, decides to do crime with Ben, Tenzin, and their human (and Ben’s high school sweetheart) Chloe.)

BACK TO BENZIN!

I adore Tenzin, but I’m also a little afraid of her. This how I prefer all my best girlfriends, though, and I think I’d make an excellent day person for Tenzin, even if I don’t know any awesome tailors. BUT STILL! I would be delighted to be Tenzin’s PA and work part-time at Gavin’s bar. DAMMIT! How did this come back to Gavin again? (I’m sorry Carwyn, but you’re going to have to do some work if you want to remain number one in my heart.)

Sorry. I promise I’ll be good now.

On a more serious note, one of the best things about this book was the way the domestic abuse situation was handled.

Ben to Tenzin: “He’s not going to touch her again.”

“I have no doubt about that, but be smart. Don’t try to order her around for her own good. Don’t be a fool.”

“Sometimes women go back.”

I love that this is acknowledged without shaming the victim of the abuse. You never know the reasons a woman stays with an abuser, and until you’ve walked a few yards in those shoes, you don’t get to judge a woman for staying in a relationship like that. If you need to judge, judge the asshole who’s doing the abusing. That’s the person who’s really in the wrong, here.

I cannot stop going off on tangents. But there’s so much to talk about, and I really, really don’t want to give any spoilers.

This book combines exciting art heists and double-crosses with details of the developing relationship between Ben and Tenzin as well as exploring the fact that whether or not Ben’s a vampire biologically, he is a vampire in every other way, and adds a little bit of romance.

The world-building was, as always with Ms. Hunter, delightful. She creates a world in which vampires mingle with unsuspecting humans and makes it so believable that I definitely double-take whenever I see someone a bit too pale (which, let’s face it, in sunlight- and diversity-impaired Portland happens an awful lot).

The pacing was perfect. She moves you along the story just fast enough to keep you on edge (I read this in one sitting) without bowling you over with too much information too quickly.

One of the things I appreciate most about Elizabeth’s writing is the humor. I love someone that can make me feel, make me cringe, make me gasp, and make me laugh all in one book.

Ben glanced down. “Well, you do have great legs, Gavin. Very shapely.”

“Thank you. I work out.”

“Really?” Ben asked.

“No, you idiot, I’m a vampire.”

*sigh* Gavin

The Quote

…Ben could admit what he couldn’t in the light of day.

She was the darkness he wanted to fall into

The Verdict

This was amazing. My favorite in the Elemental World, for sure. I give it five stars and recommend you click on that cover above to figure out where you can pre-order it.

Midnight Labyrinth will be released on November 7, 2017

SaveSave

Writerly Wednesday: So Many Updates!

I have almost all my beta comments back and unless they’re fucking with me, this book isn’t as bad as I’d feared. (There is a point where you’re positive the words are the worst words in the absolute wrong order. I’ve seen this with more than one author of my acquaintance.) I’ll be wrapping The Ruby Blade up over the next few days and getting it to editor extraordinaire so she can rip it apart.

The Ruby Blade has a fairly firm release date of October 31 (hooray for Halloween!). It will likely be ready to go before that, but the week before, I’m going to be lounging on the beach in Mexico, eating my weight in tacos, and drinking margaritas-refreshing my spirit. Those are not the kind of activities I want to interrupt with constant “is anyone buying my book” refreshing.

I’m getting antsy to see the draft of the cover for the book. I mean, technically I told my cover artist that early September was fiiiiine, but dammit! I WANT IT NOW!

I’m just over 13K words into Book 4. (I’m not set on a title yet, but hopefully will be soonish; titles make me happy.) I’m really liking the direction this book is going. It’s 80% new material and 20% salvaged from my first draft of the original book three (which I split in twain).

I am tentatively looking at a mid-March release date for this one. Again, it’ll likely be ready a bit earlier, but again, travel plans and release dates are tricky.

The Beer Guy and I bought our birthday trip extravaganza tickets last week. We’re going to land in Dublin on my birthday, see as many historic sites, museums, fairy rings, pubs, cideries, and gin distilleries as is humanly possible and then fly down to Spain to celebrate the Beer Guy’s 4oth birthday drinking cider in the north of Spain. I am so excited about this trip. I have TWO Pinterest boards already. One for Ireland and one for Spain & Portugal.

If anyone has any recommendations for must-see spots in Ireland (we’re not sticking to Dublin, of course), northern Spain, or Portugal, feel free to leave them here!

My only other bit of writerly news is that my editing schedule for the next few months is starting to fill up. I’ve big projects in September, November, and January. I’m not taking anything big on in October because of travel/book release, but I’m open in early February and then starting in Mid March. I do have smaller projects interspersed throughout all those other dates for my most regular gig, but my next opening for something of a larger/longer nature isn’t until December.

I have three requests if you’re willing and able.

  1. Sign up for my newsletter (sign up in the sidebar) if you haven’t already. You’ll get access to the exclusive Raj serial that comes out once a month, you get snippets of stuff from WIPs (next month will have a section from The Ruby Blade). You’ll get the updated kill count in my ongoing battle with Colleen, release dates, cover previews, and title reveals ahead of the unwashed masses. In addition, you get book recommendations for other authors I think you’ll enjoy. (You’ll also know when my books are about to go on sale.)
  2. If you read my books, please, please, please go to Amazon and review them. (Unless your last name is Cissell – that just won’t work.) I don’t care if you liked them or disliked them, any reviews are good. I’d really like to get over a 50 reviews minimum for these books because that changes the algorithms and helps my book show up sooner in searches.
  3. If you are interested in receiving an advanced reading copy of The Ruby Blade in exchange for an Amazon review, please comment below and I’ll get in touch with you when it’s time. (Please note that ARCs are unformatted and unproofed, so there will be some wonkiness.) Please include a note letting me know if you’ve read the other two books and link to any existing book reviews you’ve done in the past.

Thanks! You guys are the best readers and I can’t wait for you to dive into The Ruby Blade!

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

Writerly Wednesday: Eleanor Book 4

I wrote book 3 of the Eleanor Morgan series in the fall of 2014. It wasn’t until I started looking at it after publishing The Waning Moon that I realized book 3 was actually two separate books; books that needed a great deal of work to make them acceptable.

I split it in half, but not evenly. What became book 3 was well over half of the original manuscript, and I spent most of July and early August writing in new scenes and rewriting the older ones. I have been informed by reliable sources that it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever written, and gods willing, the feedback that should start trickling in from my beta readers over the next week will give me the information I need to strengthen it even further before I send it off to my editor extraordinaire.

What that left me with was approximately 40,000 words that needed to encompass the last two gates and close the first major arc of the series. Instead of taking the tack I took with what ended up being The Ruby Blade (rewriting around what’s already there), I decided to start from – if not scratch – something as close as makes no nevermind.

Over the weekend, I finished my outline of Eleanor book 4 and got started writing. I’ll take some of the passages in part or in whole to add into the story, but it’s going in a slightly different direction than I’d imagined three years ago when I wrote the first draft.

I’ve also started my Pinterest board for this story, and you can see who I see in my head when I talk about Finn, Emma, Isaac, Petrina, Marie, Raj, Florence, and Eleanor. You’ll get a glimpse of the landscapes I’ll be writing in (and, in November, you’ll get to see photos I take as I do a location scout!), the characters you’re getting to know and some new ones that are coming along.

I’m hoping to release book 4 in late February or mid-March (to be honest, I think mid-March is going to be more likely as I may or may not have just purchased plane tickets to Ireland and points beyond for late Feb/early March), but I’m still a bit uncertain. It depends on how well this first draft comes together. I’m only about 6,000 new words into it so far, but it’s really coming together. I’m so excited about this project (at this stage)  and believe that it’s probably going to be one of the best things I’ve ever written. (Of course, when I’m doing the 2nd draft of it in a few months, I will be convinced that it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written, and will hate myself and everyone until it’s over.)

The August newsletter drops tomorrow (sign up in the side bar!), and with it, the latest Raj chapter, some news on recent/upcoming releases from members of the Illuterati (my author coven), and general news about my writing plans and release dates. (Psssttt…newsletter subscribers not only get access to my Raj serial, but will also be the first to see The Ruby Blade’s cover!)

This is how I assume my characters see me…